North Dakota, federal officials sue over 2016 oil spill

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The state of North Dakota and the federal government have filed a lawsuit over a large oil spill that contaminated the Little Missouri River and a tributary in 2016.

The lawsuit filed this week against Belle Fourche Pipeline seeks civil penalties and nearly $100,000 in reimbursement for the North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality’s efforts in responding to the 600,000-gallon oil spill.

The lawsuit also names Bridger Pipeline as a defendant and raises allegations related to a 2015 oil spill in eastern Montana that affected the Yellowstone River, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

Both pipeline business are part of True Companies, based in Casper, Wyoming.

The lawsuit alleges violations of the federal Clean Water Act related to both spills, as well as violations of North Dakota law pertaining to the Belle Fourche spill.

Belle Fourche’s Bicentennial Pipeline runs from Dickinson to a pump station in McKenzie County.

A spokesman for Belle Fourche and Bridger said the companies are “very disappointed that the government decided to abandon settlement talks and file the lawsuit.”

“We’ve been talking with them for a number of years and we believe we made good progress and ultimately believe we would have been able to reach a settlement,” spokesman Bill Salvin said. “Unfortunately, this takes that off the table.”

Bridger last year reached a $2 million settlement with the federal government and Montana tied to the Yellowstone River spill, according to the U.S. Justice Department.